On Trinidad Head, the tower's fourth-order Fresnel lens was lit December 1, 1871. A Victorian keeper's residence was built and in 1898 a fog signal was set up. The 4000 pound signal bell was so loud that it shook apart the ringing mechanism and the whole thing fell into the sea.
A fact not known to many is the highest wave ever recorded struck in Trinidad on December 31, 1913. Lighthouse Keeper, Fred Harrington, was performing his duties in the lighthouse perched 196 feet above sea level during a ferocious winter storm. As he turned to wipe the lantern room windows, he observed "a sea of unusual height". In his words, " The sea itself fell onto the top of the bluff and struck the tower on a level with the balcony, making a terrible jar." The spray flew forty feet above the crest. The lens was thrown off level by the wave but the plucky Mr. Harrington had the light back in operation in a half an hour. Harrington also recorded observing waves crashing over nearby Pilot Rock (103 feet) - known as "a perfect 10 over Pilot" these days.
Overlooking Trinidad Bay, an accurate replica of the Head's lighthouse anchors Trinidad's Lighthouse Memorial Park. In 1947, the original lens and bell were donated to the Trinidad Civic Club to be displayed in a memorial park overlooking Trinidad Bay. Mrs. Earl Hallmark donated land, and in 1949 the Civic Club built the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse. On Memorial Day, families and friends gather at the lighthouse to remember and honor those lost and buried at sea. Dave Zebo, a former Mayor of Trinidad, made a generous donation so the bell would ring at noon each day in their memory. In 1998, Tom Odom, a former Mayor of Trinidad, and community volunteers installed a new stainless steel dome. In 2006, Dean Heyenga, another former Mayor of Trinidad, was seen out in the fog painting the lighthouse for the Memorial Day tribute. The Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse is lovingly maintained by the Civic Club and community supporters.
Viewing of the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse and Garden is free, 24 hours daily. On the second Sunday in June during Trinidad's annual Fish Festival, the U. S. Coast Guard makes the original lighthouse available for tour at no cost. A shuttle van takes visitors to the location. The original lighthouse also can be seen at a distance from a volunteer-built viewing platform located on the Trinidad Head trail, south of the granite cross which commemorates the 1775 landing of the Spanish.
Both lighthouses participate in the Lighthouse Passport program sponsored by the U. S. Lighthouse Society. Passports and stamps are available at the Trinidad Museum, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 3:00 p.m., May through August, or at the Trinidad Bay Bed & Breakfast, 10a - 6p daily. Call 707-677-0840 for further information.
|Lighthouse Info||Trinidad Head||Trinidad Memorial|
|Date of Opening||1871||1949|
|Built by||U. S. Government on 42 acres||Trinidad Civic Club|
|Maintained by||U. S. Coast Guard||Trinidad Civic Club & volunteers|
|Elevation - (lantern)||196'||170'|
|Lat./Long/||41 03.12' N 124 09.09' W||41 03.53' N 124 08.57' W|
|Height of Lighthouse||25', masonry over brick||25' replica, concrete|
|Location||SW facing cliff on Trinidad Head at Coast Guard Station||South facing bluff within City of Trinidad, at Trinity & Edwards Streets|
|Purpose||Maritime navigational aid, continuous since 1871||Memorial to those lost or buried at sea.|
|Operational||Until 1946 with keeper, automated 1946, in service today||Coal oil lantern until electrified in 1942, Fresnel lens replaced by 375 mm refracting beacon 1947|
|Lens||Coal oil lantern until electrified in 1942, Fresnel lens replaced by 375 mm refracting beacon 1947||Non-operating original 4th Order Fresnel lens in lantern room|
|Fog bell||4000# bell added 1898, clockwork driven by weights, replaced by compressed air horn in 1942||Bell moved to Memorial Lighthouse gardens in 1949. Strikes the hour at noon daily.|
|Accessibility/Fees||Open for free tours conducted by USCG during Trinidad Fish Festival in June. Lighthouse is visible from observation platform on Trinidad Head trail built by volunteers. Light visible from Hwy101||Exterior is visible 24 hour, daily; free|
|Special Notes||On December 31, 1914, the lighthouse was stuck by the highest wave to ever strike the West Coast. The wave extinguished the light 196’ above sea level. The light was returned to service in 4 hours by Lightkeeper F.L. Harrington, keeper 1888-1916.||Services during Memorial Day weekend honoring those lost and buried at sea sponsored by Trinidad Civic Club. California Grand Sweepstakes award given to Trinidad Civic Club in 1949 “Build A Better Community” contest|
|Cost to build||$20,000 appropriated by Congress, 1866||$30,000|